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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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The Huddle
~ 2008 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday Late
Bye Week

Prediction: CLE 16, CIN 24

Update: Donte Stallworth has yet to play this year but there is a small chance he could make this his debut. At best he will be rusty playing in a new offense this year with new players and new scheme. He is considered doubtful officially so no need to add him in yet. He was held out of practice on Friday anyway. Braylon Edwards was limited in practice because of his shoulder but had a full practice on Friday and won't be limited this week beyond an apparent inability to catch the ball this year.

Ben Utecht may also be back this week after sitting out because of his chest bruise. He hasn't made much of a mark so far anyway so there is no reason to change the projections. Carson Palmer as limited on Friday to rest his elbow but is expected to play without any limitation.

On gameday, Carson Palmer was moved to #3 quarterback despite his protest by the team doctors concerned about his elbow. Ryan Fitzpatrick will take the start.

These two teams had the fantasy game of the year when they met in week two of 2007 and the Browns prevailed 51-45. A star in Derek Anderson was born and for at least a while, the Browns were an offensive powerhouse. Later in the year, the Bengals won 19-14 when these teams played in Cincinnati. Now this game is just about getting a first win for a franchise teetering on total collapse and the loser here can not only write off the season, but can expect to see a new coaching staff no later than 2009... if not earlier.

Cleveland Browns (0-3)
Homefield: Cleveland Stadium
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 DAL 10-28 +5.5 49
2 PIT 6-10 +6 45
3 @BAL 10-28 +2 38.5
4 @CIN - +3.5 44
5 BYE - - -
6 NYG - - -
7 @WAS - - -
8 @JAX - - -
9 BAL - - -
10 DEN - - -
11 @BUF - - -
12 HOU - - -
13 IND - - -
14 @TEN - - -
15 @PHI - - -
16 CIN - - -
17 @PIT - - -
CLE at CIN Rush Catch Pass
QB Derek Anderson     180,1
RB Jamal Lewis 70 10  
TE Kellen Winslow   60,1  
WR Braylon Edwards   40  
WR Syndric Steptoe   20  
WR Josh Cribbs   20  
PK Phil Dawson 3 FG 1 XP  
Pregame Notes: It is somewhat ironic that the Browns have big orange helmets with no logos because they are currently looking like the NFL's version of Cinderella last year that has turned into a big pumpkin. Three losses have just about erased all the good will of 2007 and the schedule has not been kind. This week is on the road but against the softest defense they have yet faced. And after this game and the bye week, the schedule never gets any better.

Quarterback: The wonderboy from 2007 may be in trouble here soon. Derek Anderson was the fan's favorite while tossing touchdowns last year but he slowed down late last season and now has struggled mightily in each game this year. It does not help that he has faced three great defenses but then again he should have managed to produce more than 166 yards and one score in any game. He had 29 scores last year and now has just two touchdowns against five interceptions. The team is already going to let Brady Quinn take a few snaps with the first team this week "just for, you know, practice." This week had better be a big game for Anderson whose job is very much on the line.

The claim to fame that Anderson had last year was his monster 328 yard, five touchdown game against the visiting Bengals in week two - his first start. Later on the road, Anderson passed for 251 yards and two scores. Whatever Anderson does this week is probably as good as it is going to get.

Running Backs: Jamal Lewis is practicing and playing but he is not 100% healthy yet and still is recovering from the hamstring injury of late August and a minor ankle sprain from a couple of weeks ago. His stats reflect a less effective Lewis with never more than 62 rushing yards in any game this year and currently totaling 44 runs for 156 yards for a 3.5 YPC and no scores so far. He has added a few catches per week to help but so far he has almost no competition for carries and yet has been a very marginal fantasy starter thanks in no small part to the bad schedule.

Lewis had a career best 217 rushing yards in the home meeting with the Bengals last year but only gained 92 yards on 21 carries in the road game.

Wide Receivers: Braylon Edwards continues to struggle with dropped passes and only has eight catches for 73 yards total on the season. What's worse than just eight catches is that he has been thrown 25 passes. No other wideout has stepped up here and of course Donte Stallworth has missed all three games this year with a strained quadriceps.

Edwards enjoyed big games against the Bengals who allowed him four of the 12 touchdowns he would have in 2007. Edwards caught eight passes for 146 yards at home and later had eight more receptions for 52 yards. Even Joe Jurevicius had two touchdowns in the first meeting.

Tight Ends: Kellen Winslow was the only Brown with fantasy value but even that ended last week when he only had two receptions for 14 yards against the Ravens. This is an old problem for Winslow who had almost all his big games last year come while at home. Winslow hasn't scored in the last five road games.

Winslow had six receptions for exactly 100 yards and a score against the visiting Bengals last season and later was held to seven catches for 73 yards with no score.

Match Against the Defense: The Bengals rush defense is nothing special though Lewis is still not 100% healthy and not running that well. Expect just moderate yards in this road game and likely no score. Anderson is on a major hot seat and needs a good game here but the Bengals secondary has actually been improved this year with only two passing scores allowed so far and even Eli Manning only had one. Look for one passing score that most likely goes to Winslow. No wideout has turned in more than 64 yards against the Bengals so far this year.

Gaining Fantasy Points CLE 32 31 32 13 28 29
Preventing Fantasy Points    CIN 12 20 17 14 22 12

Cincinnati Bengals (0-3)
Homefield: Paul Brown Stadium
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @BAL 10-17 -1 39
2 TEN 7-24 -1 37.5
3 @NYG 23-26 +13.5 42
4 CLE - -3.5 44
5 @DAL - - -
6 @NYJ - - -
7 PIT - - -
8 @HOU - - -
9 JAX - - -
10 BYE - - -
11 PHI - - -
12 @PIT - - -
13 BAL - - -
14 @IND - - -
15 WAS - - -
16 @CLE - - -
17 KC - - -
CIN vs CLE Rush Catch Pass
QB Carson Palmer 270,2
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick     250,2
RB Chris Perry 100,1 10  
TE Reggie Kelly   20  
WR Chad Johnson   60  
WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh   90,1  
WR Antonio Chatman   60,1  
PK Shayne Graham 1 FG 3 XP  

Pregame Notes: The Bengals have fallen to 0-3 and they did start the year on a very bad note but last week against the Giants in New York the team showed impressive cohesion and dedication and almost pulled off an upset. It was almost as if... as if... like the Bengals had character. That effort bodes very well coming into this week and if the Bengals cannot beat the visiting Browns, then it's hard to see where that first win will happen because it will not get any easier than this.

Quarterback: Carson Palmer struggled the first two weeks as if he was a rookie on a newly formed franchise but in New York the only Palmer showed up and completed 27 of 39 passes for 286 yards and a score. It was more than the first two weeks combined though he was sacked six times. Palmer is very familiar with the Browns and has had his best efforts against them. He had a game for the ages last year when he passed for 401 yards and six touchdowns in Cleveland. He later only passed for 115 yards and one score when the Bengals went to a heavy rushing attack in the second meeting.

Running Backs: Chris Perry has not enjoyed much of a return with only 180 yards on 60 carries (3.0 YPC) but he has scored once in each of the last two games and the team stands squarely behind him since Kenny Watson only gets a couple of token plays per game. One change in the return of Perry is that the Bengals still are not throwing to any running backs even though Perry offered a valued third down role a couple of years ago.

Rudi Johnson ran for 118 yards in the first meeting with the Browns and later Kenny Watson rushed for 130 yards and one score in the home meeting.

Wide Receivers: Forget the first two games when no wideout did anything. At least T.J. Houshmandzadeh has finally showed up this year with his 12 catches for 146 yards and a score last week. Chad Johnson still has yet to do more than your average tight end but he caught 11 passes for 209 yards and two scores in the week two points bonanza of last year and Houshmandzadeh turned in eight catches for 69 yards and two scores as well. In the home game, nether player had more than 49 yards but Houshmandzadeh scored once.

Whatever happens in the passing game this week may be about as good as it gets.

Tight Ends: Reggie Kelly has seen an uptick in use but that only means he has three or four catches lately instead of his usual one per week. With a high of 15 yards, you can still forget about him.

Match Against the Defense: This is the best chance that Chris Perry may have for a big rushing game against one of the worst defenses this year. The Browns have already allowed six rushing scores this year and well over 100 rushing yards per opponent.. Since Perry doesn't share, expect a nice game here with a score - if not two.,

Palmer goes against a secondary that has seemed better than it is because opponents have just been rushing against them and not needing to pass. But Palmer needs a good game here and the Browns should be just the team to allow it. Look for healthy yardage and two scores that favor the wideouts. Johnson could have one of his monster games here but he has been so inconsistent this year and never that good that expecting anything more than a moderate showing is optimistic.

Gaining Fantasy Points CIN 30 29 20 28 26 25
Preventing Fantasy Points    CLE 6 26 18 16 3 24
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